Monday, August 27, 2007

All ha ha hee hee

How much comedy is it possible to see in one day on the Fringe? You could probably do 8 or 10 shows, or even more, if you started early and kept going into the night, but there comes a point when you reach saturation. It's like a law of diminishing comedy returns - physically possible to see more, but you get to a limit. I think I pitched it just nicely on Saturday; beginning with Potted Potter at 11am, and ending with Dan Clark at 8:30pm, my day as bookended by my two favourites of the day, with some good stuff in between.

First up, Potted Potter, all the Harry Potter books condensed into a one hour two man show. It was pitched perfectly for the Saturday morning mix of kids and adults - enough clever one-liners for the adults with lots of story-telling for the children. Billed as a parody, its a very affectionate one - it pokes fun without ridicule, and wouldn't upset an HP devotee. There's even a game of quidditch involving the audience. The two performers, Dan and Jeff, were the usual straight man/fool pairing which worked very well. Apparently they're going on tour witht he show - worth a look.

Next, an added show from Simon Amstell because his late night slot had completely sold out. He's very funny, and very engaging - even though, as he said himself, the theatre he was in on Saturday lunchtime was huge (Pleasance Grand) and he much prefers smaller, more intimate gigs. The show is called "No Self", and is a contemplation of human identity via some (if its true) revealing and intimate stuff about his love life, as well as some really funny stuff about his family. He's as smart on stage as he is on TV, and I enjoyed this show - but I would like to see him in a smaller venue as I think some of the humour was lost in the cavernous venue.

In contrast Isy Suttie was in the Cellar at the Pleasance, a tiny, sweaty venue seating about 30, less two Icelanders who left after about 5 minutes. I don't know what she'd done to offend them - her show was a story about finding love in a supermarket (Somerfield in Matlock, a location I know well). She switches deftly between Lisa the checkout girl, Carl the shelfstacker, and the American singer-songwriter who is Lisa's rival for Carl's affections, plus several other characters. As the review I've linked to says, every review will compare her to Victoria Wood, and there are similarities - stories told through song, the random bits of life turned into key parts of the story. She's very witty and funny, and deserves a bigger audience. And I'm not just saying that because she's from Derbyshire.

Rebus McTaggart is more character-based comedy, with Richard Thomson doing a funny and very rude take on Scottish TV detectives, although in his case rather an inept cop in Ecclefechan. The front row certainly got to see rather more of him than they'd probably bargained for during his Sharon Stone impression. A good recommendation from the girl in the Pleasance box office - thanks for the tip. (Yes I did spend almost the entire day in the Pleasance Courtyard, but there was comedy, beer and food, what more could I want?)

By the time I got to see God's Pottery, I was beginning to flag a bit, although the mix of straight stand-up and musical comedy was a good balance. I would've liked to have seen some straight theatre, but by 6pm it was clear that there are limits to what one person should see in a day. God's Pottery are a spoof folk duo, here to save the world from such problems as addiction, British people, and women. They appear as a pair of sanctimonious, sandal-wearing singers with bad haircuts and permagrins, with an underlying jealously in their relationship which emerges as the show proceeds. They pick a pretty easy target to hit, and although they were good, I felt the show spread itself too thinly. They could be much more cynical and that would hit a nerve much more.

And finally, the show I'd been looking forward to most, Dan Clark in "Unfangled". I've now seen his last three shows, thanks to A's wish to see him a couple of years ago, and I really like his style of loosely focused humour. His show this year is based on the idea that we're all hooked on the internet, and communicate with huge numbers via MySpace and Facebook, but he can't get a girlfriend. He's very good at audience participation, and even when he seems to be thrown for a moment, picks it up very quickly and turns it into a laugh. The best show of the day, and a good way to end.

It's a gorgeous sunny Bank Holiday Monday here (clearly, global warming is happening, then), and since I spent a lovely sunny Edinburgh day yesterday in a series of darkened rooms, I'm going to drag myself away from the internet and go outside. Back later with some film reviews.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew! You seem to be having a far more hectic time than we all did in Oxford (which was great - lots of folk asking after you both).
Love from us

1:27 pm  
Blogger Stacie said...

Wow! I think I would have been humor saturated much earlier!

5:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... I'm not quite clear about something - with the insider tip about Rebus McTaggart did you avoid the front row or make an undignified beeline for it? Remember, you're amongst friends here - and the door to my confessional is always open!


2:10 pm  

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